Patricia Velasquez was born in Guajira, Venezuela, on January 31, 1971. Raised by her educator parents in a third world country, not to mention the fifth child of six, Patricia's life was far from luxurious or glamorous.
Velasquez attended San Vicente de Paul High School, and after her graduation in 1987, she headed for college to study engineering and accounting. Although she was being raised to go into the Venezuelan oil industry, which is practically the only choice for Indian children from Venezuela (Patricia's mother is of native heritage, from the Wayu tribe in the Amazon), a chance event led her to switch her plans.
After a year of college studies, she left for Milan in pursuit of a modeling career. Up until that point, the closest Patricia came to a modeling experience was her participation in beauty pageants in her native Venezuela, which didn't affect her upcoming modeling gigs.
In 1998, Velasquez strutted down catwalks in ready to wear fashion shows for designers such as Antonio Berardi, Bella Freud, Corinne Cobson, Claude Montana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, and Owen Gaster.
As for print, Velasquez appeared in ads for Chanel's Allure, Monsoon, Roberto Verino's Verino fragrance, as well as everyone's favorite, Victoria's Secret. She even donned swimsuits for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition in 1994.
Signed with Ford in New York, IMG in Paris and Models 1 in London, Patricia extended her resume from appearing in the pages of Vogue and Elle, to appearing on the big screen.
Her debut role was as Maya in the 1996 film Le Jaguar, which Patricia followed up with a role in Eruption (aka Volcano Run) a year later. 1999 was a huge year for Patricia, as she appeared in Beowulf and No Vacancy; broke out despite a small role, as Anck-Su-Namun in the sleeper hit, The Mummy; and finally appeared in Fa?ade (aka Death Valley).
Velasquez stole the spotlight from cutey Heather Graham in Committed, in a comedic turn as a waitress -- she was especially noticed during the screening at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. That same year, she appeared with Pras and Ja Rule in Turn It Up, and then starred in Saint Bernard.
Even with the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, Velasquez never forgets the struggling days of poverty growing up in Venezuela. After her first few modeling gigs, she bought her family a new home, made sure her 3 brothers received a college education, and still supports causes such as the advancement of Hispanics, fair treatment of indigenous peoples, and the fight against pediatric AIDS. Patricia also launched a foundation to help Venezuelans.